A decision to have charges dropped against a student for recording alleged bullying was reached to the relief of fifteen-year-old Christian Aaron True Stanfield. Normally not considered to be a troublemaker, Christian was devastated when he was found guilty of a summary disorderly conduct charge for recording a bullying incident in his math class, thinking that it would help others to believe him.
He was worried and shocked, because his need for help was summarily overlooked by South Fayette school administrators and police, and because his good record had been sullied.
On Wednesday, Christian learned that the Allegheny County district attorney’s office will withdraw that count at a hearing April 29 in Common Pleas Court.
“It’s awesome,” he said when he got the news. “It eases my mind a lot.”
Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said his office is not involved in the issuance of summary citations but gets the case at the appellate level in Common Pleas Court. He said the single count against Christian will be withdrawn.
“The behavior does not rise to the level of a citation,” Mr. Manko said. “No one who is authorized to give advice on wiretap or school violation issues was contacted in our office by the school district or South Fayette police. Multiple attempts to contact the officer who wrote the citation have been made.
“We have not heard from him.”
Chronic problem with bullying
Although Christian’s mother, Shea Love, sent repeated emails and complaints about problems her son was having to school administrators and to his special education teacher, she said, it appeared no action was taken against the group of boys who were bothering him.
Christian, Ms. Love said, has been diagnosed with ADHD and an anxiety disorder. But, she continued, he also has a processing disability, which means that it takes him longer to process things in his mind.
She estimated there had been eight to 10 incidents in his math class, which ranged from spitwads being shot at her son to hand sanitizer being thrown at his back to attempting to burn Christian with a lighter.
On Feb. 11, Christian used his iPad mini to make an audio recording of what was happening in his class.
“I just recorded it because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard,” he testified at his March 19 hearing, according to a transcript. “Like, I’d always go home or tell my mom that this is happening, but I don’t actually have anything to show for it. So it was kind of, like, basically my voice wasn’t being heard and I wanted some help. So it wasn’t, like, I — this wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.
“I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.”
School administrators, when they learned of the recording the next morning after Ms. Love complained, forced Christian to delete it.
But his mother was able to describe the seven-minute recording in detail.
At first, she said, Christian’s teacher is trying to instruct him. The other boys in the background can be heard making vulgar comments, including one suggesting another pull down Christian’s pants.
Although the teacher corrects them, the abuse doesn’t stop. Then, Ms. Love said, there’s a loud slam.
“And they all burst out laughing, and one says, ‘What? I was just trying to scare him.’ “
The teacher is never heard asking Christian if he is OK, if he needs to leave the room, or to ask the other boys to leave, Ms. Love said.
“None of that,” she continued. “It blows my mind.”
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